Several days on, Catholic church still silent on terror display

Photographs of the eight IRA members and bystander Anthony Hughes who were killed in an SAS ambush in Loughgall, Co Armagh, are held by people taking part in a march to Cappagh, Co Tyrone, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the shooting: Sunday April 30, 2017. The IRA members killed were Jim Lynagh, 32; Padraig McKearney, 32; Gerard O'Callaghan, 29; Tony Gormley, 25; Eugene Kelly, 25; Patrick Kelly, 32; Seamus Donnelly, 19; and Declan Arthurs, 21.
Photographs of the eight IRA members and bystander Anthony Hughes who were killed in an SAS ambush in Loughgall, Co Armagh, are held by people taking part in a march to Cappagh, Co Tyrone, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the shooting: Sunday April 30, 2017. The IRA members killed were Jim Lynagh, 32; Padraig McKearney, 32; Gerard O'Callaghan, 29; Tony Gormley, 25; Eugene Kelly, 25; Patrick Kelly, 32; Seamus Donnelly, 19; and Declan Arthurs, 21.

The Catholic Church has remained tight-lipped about whether it condones the use of its land for “public displays of terrorism”, after an IRA commemoration on Sunday began at its premises.

The News Letter has contacted the church on repeated occasions over recent days in an attempt to seek clarification about the use of the grounds for the commemoration event, which was advertised as leaving from the Church of Immaculate Conception in Altmore, Co Tyrone.

The event itself, attended by Sinn Fein Northern Ireland leader Michelle O’Neill, was held to commemorate eight IRA men who were shot dead by the SAS in an ambush attack at Loughgall in 1987.

On Friday, the News Letter revealed that the organisers of the event did not seek the permission of the Catholic Church to use its premises as an assembly point for the parade.

The church has since been challenged to “publicly state its opposition to public displays of terrorism glorification”.

Kenny Donaldson, speaking on behalf of the campaign group Innocent Victims United who represent victims of paramilitary terrorism, said ahead of Sunday’s event that the church has “remained tight-lipped about its position on the actual event”. He added: “We challenge the Roman Catholic Church to publicly state its opposition to public displays of terrorism glorification and furthermore to state that its facilities will never be permitted for use by such elements.”

The News Letter put Mr Donaldson’s concerns to the Catholic Church and asked, again, for clarification of their position but had yet to receive a response last night.